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Letters: Teachers should help craft evals

Before we celebrate mothers and fathers this spring,

Before we celebrate mothers and fathers this spring, it's time to take a second to honor those adults who also play an important role in our lives -- educators. Credit: iStock

New York's quest for a fair teacher evaluation system needs to include those most affected: teachers, administrators and students ["Albany finally earns an A," Editorial, April 1].

We on the front lines don't deny that improvements are necessary. We welcome changes that would allow those of us who go above and beyond to be evaluated on the work we are doing.

We would welcome a change in the narrative of what is said about teachers, instead of constantly hearing about what we don't do, how we don't do it, and how good and easy we have it.

Rissa Zimmerman, Dix Hills

Editor's note: The writer is an elementary schoolteacher.

Newsday's March 29 editorial ["Can evals make the grade?"] uses dubious statistics to make a flawed argument. The editorial board marvels that 60 to 70 percent of students enrolling at community colleges need remediation. However, that's one reason many students choose community college.

The objection to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's education "reform" agenda is not to the concept of teacher evaluations, but rather to the use of deeply flawed assessments in those evaluations. Meaningful assessments must be well-constructed and research-based and must provide educators, parents and students with timely data. By all reports, the current assessments meet none of those criteria; they are purely punitive.

Andrew Brunson, South Setauket

Editor's note: The writer is a music teacher in North Merrick schools.

Newsday's editorial board talks about the teachers unions gaming the system. What about taking a look at Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the hedge fund billionaires who support him? Aren't they gaming the political system?

They have a vested financial interest in the proliferation of charter schools. Some of Cuomo's campaign donors have an ownership interest in charter school companies.

Maria Stephenson, Bellmore

Editor's note: The writer is a teacher.

The use of standardized test scores for teacher evaluation is based on the incorrect premise that all students are equally capable -- and equally willing -- to ace the test. The small sample size of a class is statistically insufficient to measure a teacher's effectiveness.

Also, the idea that a certain percentage of teachers must be rated ineffective for an evaluation to be meaningful is wrong.

Still, a valid evaluation process is needed. This is challenging for a vocation that has no direct quantitative metric of effectiveness. An evaluation mechanism should not only be used by schools and the state, but also should be useful as a tool to guide and facilitate improvement, in particular self-improvement. It needs to be developed and implemented such that its usefulness is supported, even embraced, by teachers.

Paul Northrup, Eastport

Many years ago, teaching was considered a noble profession. Now, it seems as if many of us in the teaching profession are considered expendable.

I've been teaching for 16 years and have always enjoyed coming to work and interacting with my students. They come from tough backgrounds, and while it can be challenging, isn't that what work is supposed to be? Otherwise, anyone could do it; but the truth is, not everybody can.

The threat of losing my job in a couple of years because my test scores aren't enough to satisfy the governor is unfair and unjust. Holding back state aid unless we conform to what he wants is blackmail.

Dave Sonkin, Babylon